Home, Sweet Home: Isner Into Eighth Atlanta Final
It is often said that there’s no place like home, and that certainly has rung true for John Isner at the BB&T Atlanta Open — held in his native Georgia — over the years.
So it was no surprise that the top seed beat fourth seed Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1 on Saturday to reach his eighth final at the ATP World Tour 250-level tournament. On Sunday, the American will try to lift his fifth trophy at the event against compatriot Ryan Harrison or Brit Cameron Norrie.
“It was tough,” Isner said on court after the win. “Just like yesterday, I was able to get out early in the third set and that definitely took some pressure off. I’m very happy to be back in the final here. I need to get in the air conditioning and just rest so I could be ready for tomorrow.”
Isner now leads Ebden 4-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series after avenging his lone loss against the Aussie, which came earlier this season at the Australian Open. The 33-year-old has won eight of his nine semi-finals in Atlanta, and will look to improve his record of 13-12 in tour-level finals.
For a moment, it looked like a relatively straightforward match might have turned into a disaster for the 6’10” American. Isner led by a set and a break, which appeared to cement a victory considering he arrived in Atlanta leading the ATP World Tour in service games won this season at 94.63 per cent according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats. After breaking back, Ebden saved one match point in the ensuing tie-break when Isner missed a backhand return long.
“I didn’t like my energy once I got broken. That’s a big part, it’s intangibles out there,” Isner said. “It’s not based on strokes or anything like that. My energy wasn’t great, and I think that’s what cost me the second set.”
But instead of wilting in the Atlanta heat, Isner quickly recovered using the confidence from his victory at the Miami Open presented by Itau and run to the Wimbledon semi-finals to recover and break twice in the decider, coming out victorious after exactly two hours. This time, there was no slip from Isner, who hit two of his 26 aces to close out the win. If Harrison pulls through his semi-final against Norrie, he will set a rematch of last year’s final, in which Isner triumphed.
“I’ve played both those guys before. Obviously I played Ryan here in the final last year,” Isner said. “It would be great to play him again in the final, two Americans. But we’ll see what happens.”
Did You Know?
Isner can join Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras as the only Americans to win five or more titles at a single tournament if he triumphs in Atlanta on Sunday.